- Mayte Michelle Rodríguez
July 12, 1978 (age 43)
- Carmen Milady Pared, Rafael Rodriguez
Mayte Michelle Rodriguez (born July 12, 1978), better known as Michelle Rodriguez, is an American actress, screenwriter, and DJ. She got her breakout role as a troubled boxer in the independent film Girlfight (2000), which was met with critical acclaim and earned her several awards, including the Independent Spirit Award and Gotham Award for Best Debut Performance. The following year, she starred as Letty Ortiz in the blockbuster film The Fast and the Furious (2001), reprising her role in its sequels Fast & Furious (2009) and Fast & Furious 6 (2013).
During her career, Rodriguez has played tough, independent women in a number of successful action films, such as Blue Crush, S.W.A.T., Battle: Los Angeles, and Avatar. She is also known for her roles as Shé in the action comedy films Machete and Machete Kills, and Rain Ocampo in the science fiction films Resident Evil and Resident Evil: Retribution.
Rodriguez also branched into television, playing Ana Lucia Cortez in the second season of the television series Lost as part of the main cast before making numerous guest appearances before the series ended. She has also done numerous voice work in video games such as Call of Duty and Halo, and lent her voice for the 3D animated film Turbo and the television series IGPX.
With her films grossing over $5 billion collectively, a 2013 Entertainment Weekly article described Rodriguez as "arguably the most iconic actress in the action genre, as well as one of the most visible Latinas in Hollywood".
Rodriguez was born in San Antonio, Texas. Her mother, Carmen Milady Rodriguez (born Pared Espinal), is a native of the Dominican Republic, and her father, Rafael Rodriguez, is a Puerto Rican who served in the U.S. Army. Rodriguez moved to the Dominican Republic with her mother when she was eight years old and lived there until the age of 11. Later she moved to Puerto Rico until the age of 17 and finally settled in Jersey City, New Jersey. She dropped out of high school but later earned her GED; in total, she was expelled from five schools. She briefly attended business school before quitting to pursue a career in acting, with the ultimate goal of becoming a screenwriter and director.
She has ten siblings and half-siblings. She was partly raised by her devoutly religious maternal grandmother, and was brought up a Jehovah's Witness (her mother's religion), although she has since abandoned the faith. A DNA test of Rodriguez, performed by the television program Finding Your Roots, found that her ancestry is 72.4% European, 21.3% African, and 6.3% Native American. She also stated on the show that there was some racial conflict between her families, since her Puerto Rican father was light-skinned and her Dominican mother had a dark complexion.
Having run across an ad for an open casting call and attending her first audition, Rodriguez beat 350 other applicants to win her first role in the low-budget 2000 independent film Girlfight. With her performance as Diana Guzman, a troubled teen who decides to channel her aggression by training to become a boxer, Rodriguez accumulated several awards and nominations for the role in independent circles, including major acting accolades from the National Board of Review, Deauville Film Festival, Independent Spirit Awards, Gotham Awards, Las Vegas Film Critics Sierra Awards, and many others. The film itself took home a top prize at the Sundance and won Award of the Youth at the Cannes Film Festival. In 1999, she auditioned for a role in Sisqó's hit music video, "Thong Song". In 2002, she had a cameo appearance in Ja Rule's music video for his song "Always On Time".
Rodriguez has had notable roles in other successful movies, including Letty Ortiz in The Fast and the Furious (2001) and Rain Ocampo in Resident Evil (2002). She also appeared in Blue Crush and S.W.A.T.. In 2004, Rodriguez lent her voice to the video game Halo 2, playing a Marine. She also provided the voice of Liz Ricarro in the Cartoon Network series IGPX. From 2005 to 2006, she played tough cop Ana Lucia Cortez on the television series Lost during the show's second season (the character's first appearance was a flashback during the first season's finale, "Exodus: Part 1"), and returned for a cameo in the second episode of the show's fifth season, "The Lie", in 2009. She returned again in the penultimate episode of the series, "What They Died For", in 2010. In 2006, Rodriguez was featured in her own episode of G4's show Icons.
Several times over the course of her career, she has been ranked in Stuff magazine's "102 Sexiest Women In The World", Maxim 's "100 Sexiest Women", and People en Español 's "50 Más Bellos", and was ranked No. 74 in FHM's "100 Sexiest Women in the World 2009"
In early 2000, Rodriguez broke off an engagement to a Muslim boyfriend, citing opposition to religious requests he made of her. She has since reportedly dated her Fast and the Furious co-star Vin Diesel and S.W.A.T. co-star Olivier Martinez.
In July 2006, Rodriguez told Cosmopolitan magazine that she is not a lesbian, but had "experimented with both sexes". In November 2006, her openly bisexual Bloodrayne co-star Kristanna Loken made comments to The Advocate that were widely interpreted by the media as an admission that the two were in a relationship, though the relationship was never officially confirmed by either actress. In June 2007, the lesbian magazine Curve ran a cover story that claimed Rodriguez to be bisexual. Rodriguez criticized the magazine for this, asserting that the magazine had "put words in her mouth". She again stated that she was not a lesbian in a November 2008 interview in the Dominican Republic women's magazine Cayena.
In October 2013, Entertainment Weekly quoted her saying: "I've gone both ways. I do as I please. I am too curious to sit here and not try when I can. Men are intriguing. So are chicks." She subsequently explained her coming out to Latina magazine: "I'm getting older. Eventually it's going to wrinkle up and I'm not going to be able to use it. I wanted to be honest about who I am and see what happens." In May 2014, she said in an interview that she hoped her actions would help others in a similar situation: "Maybe by me opening my big fat mouth like I usually do and stepping up and owning who I am, maybe it might inspire somebody else to do the same." She described herself as bisexual in another interview later that month: "Bi, yeah, I fall under the B category of LGBT". Regarding the lack of unconventional female roles available in films, she said: "What's wrong with being bi? I mean, we're getting flak everywhere we go."